Who We Are
Voices of DSHA

Changing Lives Through STEM

Note: This piece appeared in the 2021-2022 DSHA Annual Report, which hit mailboxes mid-December.

Lidia Mora Gallegos, DSHA ’23, embodies this part of the DSHA mission:

Divine Savior Holy Angels High School is a Catholic, college-preparatory high school for young women that excels at developing the whole person. Sponsored by the Sisters of the Divine Savior and grounded in their mission to make known the goodness and kindness of Jesus Christ, we develop our students into capable young women of faith, heart, and intellect who accept the gospel call to live lives that will make a difference.

Throughout her time at DSHA, Mora Gallegos has grown in her love of math and science, her self-confidence, and her faith. Combining her passion for STEM and her ability to see God in others, she feels compelled to live a life that will make a difference and inspire those around her.
Math and science have always been passions of mine, and after learning about velocity, motion, and physics in eighth grade, I knew I was absolutely in love with science. Since the day I started school at DSHA, I have been provided with the tools to decide what I might want to study and to discover what about science and math really interests me.


All of the science classes that I have taken at DSHA – Accelerated Biology, Honors Chemistry, and both AP Biology and AP Chemistry during my junior year – helped me develop a deep appreciation of science, especially for the way biology and chemistry are so intertwined. This relationship and interlacement between the many fields of science is one of the things I love so much about it; everything is related to a certain extent. In addition to this, the unknown and the thought that we still have so much left to discover, to solve, is something that intrigues me and continues to develop my love for science.

In the fall of my junior year, I joined DSHA’s SMART (Students Modeling a Research Topic) Team co-curricular. The SMART Team works with a research scientist and conducts secondary research on the topic of their choice. We create an abstract and a 3-D model of the protein or enzyme we are working on. This year, we worked with a scientist from Concordia University on our project entitled Shut the F(AAH) Up: Inhibiting Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase as a Novel Approach to Pain, which described the FAAH inhibitor that can be used to relieve symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, migraines, arthritis, and other chronic pain conditions. The FAAH inhibitor can be used as a substitute to opioid-based drugs; therefore, it presents a new and important approach to pain relief that reduces the extreme effects that opioid-based drugs can present. After our research is complete, we attend the annual American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Experimental Biology conference in the spring where we present our university-level professional poster and model to scientists from all around the world. This past year the conference took place in Philadelphia.

Joining SMART Team really changed my life. I was introduced to a whole new aspect of the world of science, and my participation in SMART Team helped shape my future because I discovered I love biomedical sciences. I learned not only of my interest in pharmacy and medicine, but I also learned how capable I am, and how persistent and courageous I can be. Although the thought of presenting the project in front of thousands of people frightened me, with the encouragement and support of my teammates and my teachers, I was able to face my fears. In addition, I had the opportunity to network with many research scientists from around the country at the national conference. I can see myself in them, and I learned that there really is nothing I can’t do.


The all-girls environment of DSHA allows me the space and support to grow in self-confidence. Anywhere you turn, you encounter welcoming and supportive young women. The all-girls environment of DSHA has helped me grow in self-confidence in science because I have a network of intelligent young women who are always more than willing to provide support. I know that even when I am having a hard time, I can count on my classmates to help me understand. The support of my classmates is always there, which I feel helps us all grow in self-confidence as we come to realize our worth and value at DSHA and in the world.

This confidence shined this summer as I completed an internship at the Medical College of Wisconsin through the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity. Over the length of the seven-week internship, I conducted research, developed an abstract, and presented my findings. In the lab, I worked on cancer research and I was tasked with DNA purification, PCR reactions, and gel electrophoresis, all of which are items I was introduced to in AP Biology at DSHA.

I am so fortunate as a high school student to have access to a lot of the materials we use in classes, and to experience how DSHA thoroughly prepares us to enter the science field. Because of what I have learned at DSHA, I was able to hold an internship at the Medical College of Wisconsin as a high school senior.


In addition to the self-confidence I have developed at DSHA, DSHA has also helped me grow in my Catholic faith. DSHA has given me the tools to be able to see God everywhere I go. Whether I am at school, at home, or at my internship, I see God in all those around me.

My Catholic faith has also had an impact on my future. I have always felt God calling me to a field that will allow me to make a difference in the lives of others. I feel God is calling me to work in pharmacy, aiding in the development of treatments that will help provide the world with an array of therapeutic benefits. I hope to major in chemical engineering during my undergraduate studies and then to specialize in pharmacology and attain my PharmD.

I believe there is no other way to live life than to make a difference. Whether that difference is big or small, any action or decision made matters in our lives and the lives of others. Everything we do and every word we speak influences the lives we live and the lives of those around us.

It is ultimately up to us to decide whether we want to inspire a beneficial effect.

Click here to read the full 2022 DSHA Annual Report. 
    • The SMART Team presents their university-level professional poster and 3-D model of their protein at the American Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual conference in Philadelphia. Pictured from left to right are Kayla Vanderhoef, DSHA ‘22; Charlotte Desjarlas, DSHA ‘25; Katie Mark, DSHA ‘25; Lidia Mora Gallegos, DSHA ‘23; Trinity White, DSHA '23 (front); Josie Marsho, DSHA ‘25; Ashleigh Walsea, DSHA ‘23; and Sawyer Strandberg, DSHA ‘24.

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